The Commonwealth Council on Aging announced the Best Practices Awards at the Virginia Governor’s Conference on Aging on May 2. The 2016 first ($5,000), second ($3,000) and third ($2,000) place cash prize (provided by Dominion Resources) award winners are:
First Place: “You Can! Live Well, Virginia!” of Senior Connections, the Capital Area Agency on Aging is blazing new ground behind prison walls with scores of Virginia offenders who have proven over the past several years to be remarkably receptive to personally pursuing healthy lifestyle alternatives even in the midst of their severely restricted living conditions. This program is provided in the Greater Richmondregion modelled on Stanford University’s evidence-based Chronic Disease Self-Management Program. The certified volunteer trainers have won repeated accolades from the offenders themselves, generating heightened interest among wardens and officials at the Virginia Department of Corrections in efforts to expand the six-week CDSMP workshop to cover more prison locations. Like the entire U.S. population, the offender population in Virginia is rapidly aging bringing predictable cost increases for institutional offender health care that is being borne directly by taxpayers. Every enrollee is already being treated for a chronic illness. Despite early, understandable skepticism about the potential degree of health efficacy and cost reduction within the proscribed and locked environment of a prison, where everything from diets to individual mobility is severely restricted, the skeptics have been happily relieved by the program’s early and continuing success.
Second Place: Southern Area Agency on Aging’s Miles 4 Vets is a door-to-door, wheel-chair accessible transportation service for senior and disabled veterans in the Martinsville, Henry County, and Franklin County area. There is no cost to veterans who use the service. Miles 4 Vets transports local veterans from their home to the Salem Veteran Affairs Medical Center (SVAMC) in Salem, Virginia and back home every Wednesday. Miles 4 Vets began operating in November 2014 and has already served 45 unduplicated veterans. This program is the only service that provides wheel-chair accessible and door-to-door service specifically for resident veterans. Miles 4 Vets hopes to expand until all of the West Piedmont Planning District (Counties of Franklin, Henry, Patrick and Pittsylvania; and the Cities of Danville and Martinsville) is served by the program.
Third Place: Faith Works Home Repair is a collaborative effort involving the faith community and the area agency on aging, Mountain Empire Older Citizens, Inc. (MEOC), to address greatly needed home repairs and modifications for low-income older people who have no other place to turn for help. This effort promotes Aging in Place for hundreds of older people. Unsafe, inaccessible homes are made safer and more accessible thereby allowing the older person to avoid and delay having to move to a more restricted institutional setting. Additionally, the completed home repairs result in accessibility for family caregivers and professionals to provide the in-home support needed for older people to stay at home where they desperately want to remain. Faith Works matches the donated labor and supervision of faith volunteers with the care coordination department of MEOC and with donated funds for supplies to accomplish for older persons that which could not have been accomplished without collaboration and partnership.
Honorable mention goes to:
- Seniors Giving Back to Community is a program of the Burke/West Springfield Senior Center Without Walls (BWSSCWoW). It has bolstered self-confidence, pride, and health of senior participants while enriching the community with free dance performances and seminars that educate audiences of all ages and enhance the community’s diverse cultural treasures.
- The Adults Plus Counseling of Family Services of Roanoke Valley is a program that offers mental health counseling, case management, including financial management assistance and educational services, to couples or individuals aged 55+, their families and caregivers. The services allow seniors to remain in their homes and communities longer.
- The Richmond Health and Wellness Program, in partnership with housing communities and other service organizations, provides health and wellness promotion and care coordination services to low-income older and disabled adults at their place of living. The partnership consists of Dominion Place, the Better Housing Coalition, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Richmond Redevelopment Housing Authority to provide services one day a week in five senior apartment buildings in urban Richmond. Supervised by the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing clinical faculty, interprofessional student teams of nursing, pharmacy, social work, medicine, psychology and occupational therapy, provide an intergenerational component. The program is gaining national attention as a model of integrated service provision that is replicable to other settings.